It’s important not to underestimate the use of color on direct marketing pieces, particularly in the callouts. In fact, it’s so important to us that we’ve recently expanded our G7 master certification to ensure the colors we print are true to our clients’ brand colors and the vision we had during the design process.
In many cases, the colors we use are already determined by our clients’ brand standards. But depending on the tone and general feel of the piece, it might be wise to extend that palette to include some emotion-eliciting colors that aren’t in the brand guidelines.
There’s been a lot of research done on how color can trigger an emotional or mental response and that research has been instrumental in marketing. McDonalds, for instance, uses the combination of red and yellow as their predominant color scheme because that combination is known to build hunger.
Some colors and the response they trigger are well known. Red is angry, blue is sad, yellow is happy, and the list goes on. By playing on these reactions to color in a direct marketing piece, you’re able to drive an emotion or tone in a subtle, more refined way. However, there are some guidelines you need to follow to make the colors come across the way you want them to.
Consider Brand Colors Versus “Trigger” Colors for Direct Marketing
If the purpose of adding color is to draw attention to a benefit or call to action, using a standard brand color may be enough to guide a prospect’s eye. But if you want that highlighted item to have a bit of “umph” behind it, try using a “trigger” color to help get your message across. For instance, having “offer expires soon” in red can help create a sense of urgency, while having it in blue wouldn’t create the same heightened sense of time.
Stick to a Limited Color Pallet
You might have many messages you want to get across throughout your direct marketing piece, but don’t go overboard on using color. Resist the urge to put an expiration date in red, a call to action in a yellow highlight, and a savings message in green all in the same piece. Using a lot of colors only confuses the tone and creates a rainbow-colored mess. Stick to two or three colors and really hone in on what messages are more important and could benefit from color (and what color that should be).
Don’t Overload the Piece with Color
Similar to not using too many colors, don’t use too much color either. A piece with a lot of red on it might make the reader feel threatened, or like they did something wrong (remember getting tests back in school with red marks all over them?). Instead, use trigger colors as a highlighter that should be used sparingly and with great discretion.
Think About the Piece as a Whole
A red Courier font screams “warning” or “important,” but a red script takes that color and turns it into a softer tone. Colors aren’t stand-alone—you need to consider how everything works together to convey the intended feeling of the piece.
Remember, colors can do a lot for your call-outs and message points, but only if you take the time to understand what tone each color will convey, how it works within the piece, and what it does for your messaging. Master that, and your marketing piece will color your prospect impressed.
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